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The Rise of Recusancy Among the Dublin Patricians, 1580-1613

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 March 2016

Colm Lennon*
St Patrick’s College, Maynooth


‘The mayor, aldermen, merchants and inhabitants of Dublin are notorious papists, hating the English nation and government’, wrote a state official in 1596. It was noted about the same time that, by contrast, there had been scarcely six of that ilk to be found there in the early years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. While grossly mistaken in perceiving a conjunction of religious dissidence and political disaffection, this commentator on late sixteenth-century Dublin correctly identified a steady trend towards adherence to the older religion on the part of the leading citizens and others. Within a decade the assertion was publicly confirmed, at least in the case of the aldermen. More than half of that elite group of senior city councillors were convicted of recusant offences and suffered imprisonment and heavy fines. And by 1613 the much-feared merging of the religious and political discontents of Dubliners seemed to be closer to becoming a reality. The freemen chose as their members in the forthcoming parliament two avowed Catholics. The election of Aldermen Thomas Allen and Francis Taylor (which was later overturned by state intervention) was regarded as a deliberate effort by the civic body to defend cherished liberties, including that of conscience, through determined recusancy.

Research Article
Copyright © Ecclesiastical History Society 1989

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1 ‘Memorandum of the state of Ireland’, November 1506, PRO, SP63/195/52; CalSPI, 1600, p. 295.

2 See CalSPI, 1603-6, pp. 348—9, 352—3, 391.401—2; HMC Egmont MSS 1, pt 1 (1905), pp. 30-1.

3 See CalSPI, 1611-14, PP-3°5> 360—23,441—2,445.

4 See, for example. Archbishop Loftus and others to the Privy Council, 31 October 1598: PRO, SP 63/202/3, 35; William Paule to Cecil. 2 February 1598: PRO, SP 63/202(1)/45; same to Archbishop Loftus, 17 january 1598: PRO, SP63/202(1)/17(1).

5 See Edwards, R. Dudley, ‘The beginning of municipal government in Dublin’, Dublin Historical Record, 1 (1938-9), pp. 210 Google Scholar; Colm Lennon, ‘Civil privilege, state policy and the growth of tecusancy: the patriciate of Dublin in the age of Reformation, 1548-1613’ (Ph.D. thesis, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, 1987), pp. 40-84.

6 Lennon,’Patriciate of Dublin, 1548-1613’, pp. 85-135.

7 Ibid pp. 214-15.

8 Cf. Patrick McGrath and Joy Rowe, The Marian priests in Elizabethan England’, Recusant History (1984), pp. 110-20; Lennon, ‘Patriciate of Dublin, 154.8-1613’, pp. 228-32.

9 Loeber, Ralph, ‘Sculptured memorials to the dead in early seventeenth Ireland: a survey from “Monumenta Eblanae” and other sources’, PRIA 81, C (1981), pp. 26795 Google Scholar; Ronan, Myles V., ‘Religious customs of Dublin medieval guilds’, IER 5 series, 26 (1925), pp. 25547 Google Scholar, 364-85.

10 See ‘Archbishop Bulkeley’s visitation of Dublin, 1630’, ed. Ronan, Myles V., Archivium Hibernicum, 8 (1941), pp. 5698 Google Scholar.

11 See Ronan, ‘Dublin medieval guilds’; Berry, Henry F., ‘The history of the religious guild of St Anne’, PRIA 25 C (1904), pp. 21106 Google Scholar.

12 The history of the families of Ball and Ussher has been documented in two works edited by Wright, W. Ball, Ball family memoirs (York, 1908)Google Scholar, and The Ussher memoirs (London, 1889). For Challoner, see Calendar of Fiants, Ireland, Elizabeth, 34, 1059, 1238, 1811, 260s, 2848; Dublin, City Hall, City Archive, MR5/vi/2b; vii/11b.

13 Ussher to Cecil, 1568: PRO, SP 63/17/10; Gilbert, John T., History of the city of Dublin, 3 vols (Dublin. 1884-9), 1 Google Scholar. pp. 382-5.

14 Details of the marriage connections between these families arc to be found in Wright, Ball family memoirs and Ussher memoirs; see also Lennon, ‘Patriciate of Dublin, 1548-1613’, pp. 220-1.

15 See Timothy Corcoran, State policy in Irish education (Dublin, 1916).

16 See Dudley Edwards, R., ‘Ireland, Elizabeth and the Counter-Reformation’ in Bindoft, S. T. et al. (eds), Elizabethan government and society (London, 1961), pp. 31539 Google Scholar; Lennon, Colm, ‘Recusancy and the Dublin Stanyhursts’, Archivium Hihemicum, 33 (1975), pp. 10110 Google Scholar.

17 For the background, see Ellis, S. G., Tudor Ireland (London, 1985), pp. 27883 Google Scholar.

18 Lennon, ‘Patriciate of Dublin, 1548-1613’, pp. 251-4.

19 Mathew, David, The Celtic peoples and Renaissance Europe (London, 1933), cap. 10; Ellis, Tudor Ireland, pp. 2213 Google Scholar, 282-3.

20 ‘Confession of Christopher Barnewall’, 28 June 1580: PRO, SP 63/102/114(1); ‘Confirmation of Barnewall’s confession by Teig Rowe’, 24 July 1583: PRO, SP 63/103/36(3); ‘Additional confession of Christopher Barnewall’, 28 August 1583: PRO, SP 63/104/38(1).

21 Woulfe, P., ‘Some martyrs of the Pale’ in Ronan, Myles V. (ed.), Catholic emancipation centenary record (Dublin, 1929), pp. 305 Google Scholar; Brady, John, ‘Some Irish scholars of the sixteenth century’, Studies, 37 (1948), pp. 22631 Google Scholar.

22 Moran, Patrick F. (ed.), Spicilegium Ossoriense, 3 vols (Dublin, 1874-84), 1, pp. 1056 Google Scholar.

23 Rothe, David, Analecta sacra, ed. Moran, Patrick F. (Dublin, 1884), pp. 435 Google Scholar.

24 An early account of Archbishop O’Hurley’s interrogation and death was printed in Richard Verstegan, Theatrum Crudelitatum (Antwerp, 1587); Henry Fitzsimon, Catalogus praecipuorum sanctorum Hibemiae (Liege, 1619).

25 Miller, Liam and Power, Ellen (eds), Holinshed’s Irish Chronicle (New York, 1979), pp. 98101 Google Scholar Brady, ‘Some Irish scholars’, pp. 226-30; Hammerstein, Helga, ‘Aspects of the continental education of Irish scholars in the reign of Elizabeth l’, Historical Studies, 8 (1971), pp. 1403 Google Scholar.

26 Brady, ‘Some Irish scholars’, pp. 226-30.

27 Hammerstein, ‘Continental education of Irish scholars’.

28 Hogan, Edmund (ed.), lbernia Ignatiana (Dublin, 1880), pp. 19 Google Scholar, 228-9.

29 Dublin, Genealogical Office, MSS 47-8; Lennon, ‘Patriciate of Dublin, 1548-1613’, pp. 263-4.

30 ‘Archbishop Bulkeley’s visitation, 1630’, pp. 60-98.

31 Ibid., p. 65.

32 Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, Haliday MSS, 12 D 1, pp. 6, 34, 35, 38, 45; Berry, ‘Religious guild of St Anne’, pp. 94-5.

33 Lennon, ‘Patriciate of Dublin, 1548-1613’, pp. 266-8.

34 See note 4 above.

35 For details of embassies, see ‘The humble petition of the mayor and commons of Dublin’, June 1957: PRO, SP 63/199/127(1); CalSPI, 1603-6, p. 228. On the subject of the recusancy revolt, see Sheehan, Anthony J., ‘The recusancy revolt of 1603: a reinterpretation’, Archivium Hibernicum, 38 (1983), pp. 313 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

36 CalSPI, 1601-3, pp. 566-9; Hogan (ed.), Ibernia Ignatiana, pp. 109-10,112-13,117-18.119-20.

37 CalSPI, 1603-6, pp. 212-13.

38 Hogan, Ibernia Ignatiana, pp. 113,196.

39 CalSPI;, 1603-6, pp. 348-9, 353-4, 391, 401-2; HMC Egmont MSS, i, pt 1 (1905), pp. 30-1.

40 See Wood, Herbert, ‘The Court of Castle Chamber’, PRIA 32 C (1913-16), pp. 15270 Google Scholar.

41 Hogan, Ibernia Ignatiana, pp. 130,183,194-7.

42 Ibid., pp. 183,194-7,201-2.

43 CalSPI, 1603-6, pp. 362-3, 365, 373-4, 390, 405-6, 413-15,445-52, 457. 463.

44 CalSPI, 1608-10, pp. 284, 310.

45 Rich, Barnaby, A new description of Ireland> (London, 1610), p. 67 Google Scholar; Ronan, Myles V., ‘Religious life in old Dublin’, Dublin Historical Record, 2 (1939-40), pp. 1067 Google Scholar.

46 Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, Haliday MSS, 12 D I, pp. 24-32,37,48,56-7,62-4.

47 For a discussion of the political and economic aspects, see Lennon, ‘Patriciate of Dublin, 1548-1613’, pp. 316-28.

48 CalSPI, 1611-14, p. 114.

49 Ibid., pp. 96-7; R. R. Steele (ed.), A bibliography of royal proclamations of the Tudor and Stuart sovereigns, vols (Oxford, 1910), 2, nos 198, 203.

50 The main sources for these events are: Barnaby Rich, A Catholicke conference (London, 1612), fols 3v-6r; Rothe, Analecta, ed. Moran, pp. cxviii-cxxi; Moran (ed.), Spicilegium Ossoriense, 1, pp. 122-3, 123-6.

51 CalSPI, 1611-14, p. 244.

52 See Lennon, ‘Patriciate of Dublin, 1548-1613’, pp. 344-6.

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